Traditional approaches to behaviour change have tended to focus on one particular context. However, this is often insufficient to lead to the change in behaviour that policy makers are expecting. The ISM methodology has greater chances of success because it encourages broader thinking and collaborative working to develop a more integrated set of policy recommendations.

Designed for policy makers and practitioners, ISM is based on ‘moving beyond the individual’ to consider all the contexts that shape people’s behaviours – the Individual, the Social and the Material (Darnton & Horne, 2013). The ISM tool helps to generate ideas that consider influences across multiple contexts.

(Darnton & Horne, 2013) identifies 18 factors that influence behaviours within the three ISM contexts:

This refers to the factors related to the individual that affect his/her choices and modify his/her behaviour. Examples of individual factors are: values, beliefs and attitudes; costs and benefits; emotions; agency; skills and habits.

This includes the factors that exist beyond the individual in his/her close ecosystem. These influences include understandings that are shared amongst groups. Examples of social factors are: opinion leaders; institutions; norms; roles and identity; tastes; meaning; networks and relationships.

This corresponds to the external factors present in the wide environment, which both shape and constrain human behaviour. Examples of material factors are: rules and regulations; technologies; infrastructure; objects; times and schedules.